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Community rallies around store owner attacked in Belleville robbery

Two GoFundMe campaigns have raised over $11,000 for Jason Ro, the owner of Ro's General Store on Cannifton Road North in Belleville. Google Street View

Over $11,000 has been raised by the Belleville community for a convenience store owner who was brutally attacked this week during an attempted theft at his business.

The incident landed the owner in hospital and his business, subsequently, closed.

READ MORE: Belleville police seeking 2 suspects after alleged violent robbery sends 1 man to hospital

On Oct. 16, Belleville police say two men tried to rob the store on Cannifton Road North.

According to police, the thieves sprayed a man at the store with an unknown substance. The man then followed the suspects out of the store, where he was attacked, leaving him with serious injuries, police say.

The two suspects fled the scene, and were last seen escaping in a dark coloured vehicle.

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On Monday, Oct. 21, Belleville police released information saying two suspects had been arrested on Oct. 19.

Belleville police arrested 19-year-old Kyle Arsenault in Belleville on Saturday. With the assistance of the Codiac RCMP and VIA Rail police, 19-year-old Jordan Earle, of Moncton N.B. was also arrested in Moncton after he allegedly fled Ontario following the robbery.

Both men have been charged with one count of attempted murder and both are set to appear in bail court on Oct. 24.

READ MORE: Police seek suspect in armed robbery at Peterborough convenience store

While Belleville police wouldn’t confirm the name of the victim, two GoFundMe campaigns and an employee from a nearby business identify the victim as Jason Ro – he and his wife Julie own Ro’s General Store on Cannifton Road North.

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Laura Geerkens, who started one of the GoFundMe campaigns, said she chose to do so because she knew the store was closed in Ro’s absence.

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“They work 7 days a week to support their family. It will be very difficult for the store to maintain itself with family needing to be near Jay after this horrible attack,” Geerkens wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Geerkens, who gets her mail from Ro’s General Store, says she felt particularly helpless after she heard of the incident, since Ro was a well-liked figure in the small community.

“Everyone in Cannifton knows him,” Geerkens told Global News on Friday.

“He’s the type of person, if a guy can’t pay for something he’ll say ‘pay for it tomorrow.'”

By Friday afternoon,Geerkens’ GoFundMe campaign raised over $5,000.

READ MORE: Man charged with 2nd-degree murder after woman found dead in Belleville

Another GoFundMe campaign, started by nearby business owner Jamie O’Shaughnessy raised almost $6,500 — more than double the campaign’s posted goal — by Friday afternoon.

O’Shaughnessy, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, said on the web post that he set up the GoFundMe in support of a friend.

“Jason is a proud Canadian and would never ask for anything and that is why Jason works 7 days a week. As his friend, I’d appreciated any support from this local community,” O’Shaughnessy wrote on the GoFundMe campaign website.

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Peter Ryalos, an employee at Hogate Tire and Battery — a business across the street from Ro’s General Store — says Ro is still in hospital at Kingston General Hospital with serious injuries.

Geerkens, O’Shaughnessy and Ryalos all note that Ro is “beloved” in their small community.

“He is just a very nice man, he knows everybody,” Ryalos said.

Belleville police would not release any more details about the incident beyond what was released on Thursday.

Anyone with information about the suspects is being asked to contact Det. Sgt. Ian Jarvis by phone at 613-966-0882 ext. 2312 or email at ijarvis@police.belleville.on.ca or Det. Const. Corey McGee by phone at 613-966-0882 ext. 2308 or email at cmcgee@police.belleville.on.ca.

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